tv 2020 ABC January 15, 2016 10:01pm-11:01pm EST
lottery madness had us all dreaming big but now the real winners tell all on an all new "20/20." >> and now abc's "20/20." ♪ i want to be a billionaire." >> where were you when you heard the news? ♪ when you hear that shot and it's all about jackpot. >> that you didn't win. >> wow. wow, wow, wow. >> left with a lottery hangover? don't feel bad because sometimes collecting can cost you everything. when the vultures swoop in. >> it's literally the equivalent of throwing blood or chum in the water to a bunch of sharks. >> be careful what you wish for. >> you ended up in his house with all the rest of his money then he ended up dead in your property. >> but if you're still game to play -- >> next. >> -- the pros weigh in, secrets from all-stars who have won time
after time. what did they know that you don't. >> one quote is richard lustig is a get rich quick hack. >> are you going to listen to them? >> drive in style. >> or listen to me who's won seven times. >> what about the mystics who say winning numbers are all in your head literally. >> you thought you'd win. >> i knew i would wing. >> she meditated her way to $112 million. handbags, bentleys, but didn't visualize how to save it and before you dive into the deep end of the pool -- >> i have brought with me $3,30. we are buying 1515 tickets. whoa! that's insane. >> our "20/20" cameras are there. neighborhood pools, it's not just for the office anymore. tonight, the stories not over, it's just getting started. ways to improve your odds for that winning streak.
>> you've got numbers that are talking to you, get to the store and buy your ticket. >> all: powerball. >> good evening, i'm elizabeth vargas. >> and i'm david muir. the experts have a name for it, a sudden wealth event. wouldn't that be nice? >> very. >> if anything qualifies it's this week's powerball frenzy, the jackpot, $1.6 billion. the biggest in history. tonight we know of three winning tickets. >> and if you didn't win, there might be one silver lining. because of what often comes with winning, big money, big problems. but first matt gutman with what we've just learned about all the winners. ♪ >> reporter: nashville, tennessee. typically known as music city, but tonight they've got money on their minds. it was here that john and lisa robinson of tiny munford, tennessee, along with the family dog abby, came forward to claim one whopper of a check. >> we just wanted a little piece of the pie.
now i'm real grateful that we got the big piece of the pie. >> reporter: even with that plentiful helping, they both say they're keeping their jobs. lisa at a doctor's office, and john as an engineer. >> that's what we've done all our lives is work. you just can't sit down and lay down and not do nothing anymore. i mean, how long are you going to last? >> reporter: with one lotto mystery solved, the search continues for the other two luckiest people in america. whoever they are, we know this, their lives are about to change forever, but not necessarily in the ways they might imagine. after sandra hayes split $224 million prize with 12 co-workers she wrote a book about it. and which she describes the bonus that comes with a lotto jackpot no one tells you about. let's call it the vultures! >> i had people coming up to my job, sending faxes, asking for money. my doorbell would ring, and it was people i don't know, so i
had got to the point where i wasn't opening the door. >> winners of the lottery get out there and their names are released, it's literally the equivalent of throwing blood or chum in the water to a bunch of sharks. and everybody devours these folks. >> reporter: according to chicago lawyer andrew stoltmann, 75% of lottery winners go broke within 5 years, often thanks to shady financial planners looking to line their own pockets. >> recommending a more speculative investment, a riskier investment can pay a financial advisor 10 to 15 times more than, for example, recommending a government bond. >> reporter: stoltmann has represented what he calls six "lotto losers." unsophisticated when it came to investing, they put their jackpots in all the wrong places and lost practically everything. still, it could've been worse. ♪ like what happened roughly 1,000 miles away in sunny florida.
>> once they started doing a lottery in florida, all of us who had lived here our whole lives knew it was going to be just a recipe for disaster for some people. >> reporter: author carl hiassen wrote a novel called "lucky you" about a florida lottery winner who winds up dead. but a few years later this woman seemingly turned his fiction into reality. >> i did a book on organize me now, a finance book. >> reporter: dee dee moore was a self-proclaimed financial planner who showed up on the doorstep of an unsuspecting $30 million winner named abraham shakespeare. >> he kept having problems with all his financing and that's when he had asked me to help him out. >> reporter: shakespeare had been deluged with family and friends begging him for money. for example, he gave a $63,000 loan to his friend greg smith, a local barber. >> abraham had a life of drama. >> reporter: moore convinced shakepseare she could help him with what was left of his winnings. but shortly after dee dee arrived, abe vanished.
>> everybody in town seemed to think that, you know, abe has come to a bad way, but nobody had any evidence. >> reporter: the cops suspect dee dee. >> do you get tired of people asking you for money all the time, abe? >> they don't take no for an answer. >> reporter: but moore produced this video she did with shakespeare claiming he had been planning to skip town, an easy way to escape all those vultures. >> are you going to miss your home? >> yeah, i'm gonna miss it, but life goes on. >> yes, but life goes on. >> reporter: detective dave wallace wasn't buying it. you knew something was fishy, but it seemed like you didn't have enough evidence. >> correct. >> reporter: so he enlists shakespeare's friend, barber greg smith. >> i just told them i'll see what i can do. >> so i think what we should do is come up with a -- >> reporter: what he did was record hour after hour of conversations with dee dee moore tricking her with a homemade spy system straight out of james bond >> but an extremely delicate microphone, as well. >> that's brilliant. >> that's the dee dee moore
catch can. >> reporter: he devised this "catch can" himself, a recording device inside a red bull can. >> i worked undercover narcotics for eight years and i wouldn't have come up with it. >> reporter: dee dee trusted smith because she had a deal with him, help her avoid the heat, and she'd help him avoid his $63,000 debt to abe. >> i'm so deep in this [ bleep ] now, if you go down, i go down right now. >> i'm not going to get caught. >> doing this type of [ bleep ] -- >> i got to find abraham. i just need time. >> reporter: she reveals a lot to greg, all caught on tape. but there's still no body, crucial to prove murder. that's exactly why in another case in chicago, authorities exhumed a man named urooj khan. >> we want to get to the bottom of it. you know, and the thing is after he won the lottery and the next day later he bassepasses away, it's very awkward. it raises some eyebrows. >> reporter: sure enough, blood analysis revealed cyanide. >> it's almost inevitable
that people are going to read this story and look at it like it's "murder she wrote." >> reporter: "chicago tribune" crime reporter jeremy gorner says the case became a sensation. the death was ruled a homicide, but no one was ever arrested. urooj khan family used the last few months trying to find out what happened to him. >> reporter: khan's family suspected his wife. she denied it. and there was never enough evidence to prove anything. the case remains unsolved. but back in florida, greg smith's undercover sleuthing was about to help close the abe shakespeare case. dee dee finally reveals she knows where the body is. it's on her property. >> see, the thing is, it's kind of out in the open. >> reporter: the police move in, digging right where dee dee instructed greg. they find shakespeare under a concrete slab. cause of death, two shots from a .38 later traced to dee dee moore. >> state of florida versus dorice donegan moore.
>> reporter: the supposed financial planner cries copiously at the trial but never takes the stand. after hearing all of greg smith's undercover tapes, the jury convicts her after only three hours of deliberation. >> the defendant is guilty of first degree murder. >> reporter: and so -- >> i'm not nervous. i never get nervous. >> reporter: in an exclusive jailhouse interview would i hear an apology for her role in this shakespearean tragedy? hardly. this shrew had not been tamed. did you murder abraham shakespeare? >> absolutely not. >> did you bury him in your backyard? >> absolutely not. >> why are you laughing? >> because -- >> a man is dead, he was clearly murdered, and you're laughing. >> yeah, because i find it entertaining that people are that ignorant because there's so many things that prove my innocence. >> you ended up in his house with all the rest of his money. then he ended up dead on your property, shot by your gun. you don't find any of that unusual or odd? >> absolutely not, considering the people he hung around.
>> reporter: she says shakespeare was killed by a drug dealer who threatened her to cover it all up. she claims these papers are from witnesses who can corroborate her story, but they seem as worthless as losing powerball slips. >> these witnesses don't exist, and that certainly looks like your handwriting. >> what do you mean? >> that looks like your handwriting, what you said were witnesses' notes looks like your handwriting. i don't think these witnesses exist. >> reporter: moore leaves our interview to continue serving life without parole, while abe shakespeare lies in a simple resting place. a stark reminder that even when lottery dreams come true, they can end up a nightmare. >> when we come back, meet the mystics. did secrets from the secret lead to her winning 112 million? >> you thought you'd win. >> well, i knew i would win. >> and did his inner voice lead
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through those hip book-worm glasses. >> i'm very excited, i'm very happy and very proud. >> reporter: folks have a tendency to flock back to "lucky stores" like this where winning tickets were sold. but this lottery winner says the secret to winning isn't in the store, it's in your mind. meet cynthia stafford. in 2007 she was a single mom raising her deceased brother's kids when she won the california megamillions lottery. you thought you'd win? >> well, i knew i would win. >> reporter: stafford says believing and visualizing yourself winning is the key. part of the "ask the universe" philosophy popularized by "the secret" and similar books a few years back. >> i'm an avid reader, i read a book called "the power of your subconscious mind." >> it's not just hocus-pocus? >> it's about your belief, and uh, what you believe in strongly will manifest, and it does. >> reporter: and stafford says her belief was specific. she says she visualized the exact amount of money she would win.
$112 million. what's the significance of a hundred and twelve? you saw that number prior to winning that number. >> i like the number 11 cause i'm born in november, so that's pretty much it. and then just chose the two. i was trying to consolidate the number, match my birthday. that's basically what i was doing. >> reporter: ah, that birthday thing, a crucial factor for numerlogist glynis mccants. >> what are lucky numbers? they're numbers that are connected to your birthday. and if you look at the people who win the lottery, so often they tell you, "you know, i played my birth numbers," or, "i played my mom's birth numbers," that to me that's not an accident, 'cause numbers that are around you are considered lucky. >> i don't think that your birthday has any effect on your chances of winning the lottery >> reporter: you can probably visualize the esteem math professor aaron abrams holds for the great science of numerology. >> i'm open to hearing any theory that has any evidence behind it
but usually people with theories like this don't have any evidence behind it. >> reporter: then there's the case of jay vargas who was just 19 when he won $35 million in the south carolina powerball jackpot in 2008. he used some of those winnings to launch an all girls wrestling group called "wrestilicious." >> there's no redheads in the ring, though. are you going to dye your hair red? >> no, there's not a chance i can compete in that ring. jay's secret? he claims he just started hearing numbers in his head. >> it was a voice like any other, it wasn't my own or anyone that i recognize. >> telling you numbers? >> yeah. the whole day. >> and did you tell anyone about the numbers? >> a cousin. he was like, man, that's probably lottery numbers. so, once i played the lottery, once i put the numbers in, the voice stopped. >> so how long after you bought the ticket did you find out you were a winner? >> that night. >> you weren't surprised? >> no, because i knew i was going to win. you can't be surprised if you know something is going to
happen, you know. >> my advice to everyone listening, if you've got numbers that are talking to you, get to the store and buy your ticket. and visualize. sure. you have to believe it's possible for it to happen. cynthia believed it to her core. >> reporter: stafford said she's donated more than a million dollars to charities but she also splurged. how many thousands of dollars of handbags are we looking at? >> about 200,000. >> $200,000 in handbags? >> yeah. >> reporter: she gave us a tour of her house that she also wishized owning. >> i remember when i saw it, i thought to myself this is going to be my house. >> reporter: it's decorated in lottery winner chic decorated with pricey art. how much does this cost? >>i don't like to say. it's not cheap. >> reporter: and interesting conversations pieces like this unusual gold chair.
>> this represents ancient eqypt, and this represents royalty. >> royalty? >> yes. >> reporter: outside, her two bentleys, costing a mere $400,000. >> these are my babies. this is my convertible and that's more my family car and you want to take a ride in it? >> let's go for a spin! >> this car can go 200 miles an hour. >> reporter: life was good for both stafford and vargas but recently there have been bumps in the road. a brief marriage anden expensive divorce for jay. >> you see that man there, he won $35 million? >> wow. >> reporter: he claims he has 50 percent of his winnings left. >> what did you do with your money? >> invested it. >> reporter: and says he's scheduled to start shooting a wrestilicious reality show in march. >> you can't just, you know, splurge all at once. i didn't want to be one of those
stories where, you know, you get, gain the money and this wealth and then lose it all. >> reporter: but if cynthia stafford was visualizing long-term financial stability, the universe hasn't delivered. sadly on january 6th, stafford filed for bankruptcy. this week she told us she made some bad investments and lost money in the stock market. we talked about the latest developments in her life. >> wow. wow, wow, wow. does this ultimately mean, what does this, that they're out? like, they're broke? >> reporter: well it might raise some questions about any mystical approach to the lottery, but mccants says don't stop believing. >> right there. there's a winner. there's a winner. >> so even though she won the money, it didn't, it didn't fix her life, did it? and it's $112 million. and that's a message for everyone playing. if you think the money is going
to fix your life, it's not. now it's a whole new situation you have deal with. >> announcer: when we come back -- >> i've won seven lottery game grand prizes. no one in the world has ever done that. >> the pros teach you the cons of betting your birthday. why you shouldn't throw away your losing tickets. >> so what's your method? >> next. rheumatoid arthritis. before you and your rheumatologist move to a biologic, ask if xeljanz is right for you. xeljanz is a small pill for adults with moderate to severe ra for whom methotrexate did not work well. xeljanz can reduce joint pain and swelling in as little as two weeks, and help stop further joint damage. xeljanz can lower your ability to fight infections, including tuberculosis. serious, sometimes fatal infections, lymphoma, and other cancers have happened. don't start xeljanz if you have an infection. tears in the stomach or intestines, low blood cell counts, and higher liver tests and cholesterol levels
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with elizabeth vargas and the pros. ♪ >> it's easy to overlook. the small, dusty rundown town of bishop, texas, population 3,000. but it may be one of the luckiest places on earth, at least for one lottery winner who bought four winning tickets in the area, two at this now boarded up mini mart. her total wins? more than $22 million. >> there are people who have won more money, but there aren't people who have beaten the odds repeatedly like that. >> reporter: the odds? 1 in 18 septillion. that's an 18 with a whopping 24 zeros after it. >> 18 septillion is about the number of raindrops that have ever fallen in the history of the earth. >> reporter: and who is the odds defying winner? a mysterious multimillionare named joan ginther with such a low profile that this 47-year-old yearbook photo is all we could find.
>> reporter: nobody even knows what she looks like. it's like she's a unicorn. >> reporter: she grew up in bishop, and residents say she would return twice a year staying at bishop's only motel, just steps from the times market, sometimes for months at a time. >> she'd buy a lot of tickets all the time. she'd buy the whole roll. >> her passion was scratchoffs. >> she always give $20 tip so everyone was excited. >> luck just followed her. >> reporter: well, it certainly raised a lot of eyebrows. >> reporter: journalist peter mucha was intrigued enough to start poring over lottery records, for a series for philly.com. what he found was not lady luck, but a lady who seemed to know exactly what she was doing. buying massive quantities of scratch-off tickets from the tiny store. >> if you buy a hell of a lot of tickets the lottery will send more and if you keep ordering you'll have all these tickets coming to the same place.
>> reporter: funneling so many tickets to one place, increasing the chance the winning one would end up there. there was a week in 2009, when the lottery sent 20% of all the tickets in texas to the times market in bishop. it was a $10 million scratch-off game and ginther won. >> reporter: she was leveraging very dramatically, increasing her odds. >> reporter: even though there's no evidence that what joan ginther did is criminal, she's made herself impossible to find. we tried friends, neighbors, and -- >> i'm hoping to speak to someone named joan ginther. >> reporter: even her former college, that would be stanford university where she just so happens to have a ph.d. in none other than mathematics. coincidence? probably not. when it comes to outsmarting the lottery, it helps to be a math genius. >> we're counting cards, woo's not gambling. >> reporter: you may have heard of the mit students who learned to count cards, depicted in the movie "21." you may not have heard of james harvey, an mit senior who noticed a quirk in a massachusetts lottery game named cash winfall. the goal in this game, match six
random numbers and win the jackpot. and if the jackpot got to $2 million and nobody won, it would roll down or split between anyone who matched just three, four or five numbers. harvey realized he was virtually guaranteed a profit if he bought enough tickets and typed it perfectly to the roll-down so harvey along with a group of mit students bought a massive amount. >> they bought 700,000 tickets. it cost them $1.4 million. they worked with four different convenience stores. the stores would stay open all night. this went on for seven years and they did this full time. >> this was their job. >> yeah. >> eventually they made a total of more than $3.5 million profit by doing this. >> reporter: $3.5 million. >> $3.5 million. >> reporter: until finally "the
boston globe" wrote an expose and gregory sullivan, the former inspector general, was asked to investigate. do you think it was cheating? >> when the government investigated it, they found that it was legal. >> reporter: we rolled the dice and asked the mit gang for an interview, but all bets were off. but not all repeat lottery winners are quite so elusive. richard lustig says he knows how to game the games and he'll tell anybody who wants to listen. >> increase your chances of winning more often and larger amounts of money. luck has nothing to do with it. it's not something by chance. >> more money than most people will ever see in a lifetime. >> reporter: you have won the lottery many times. >> i've won seven lottery game grand prizes. no one in the world has ever done that. grand prize win number seven. and that was 98,900 and change. almost $99,000. >> reporter: lustig's made over a million in the florida lottery with the seven biggest wins ranging from $10,000 to more than $800,000. what did you buy with your winnings? >> i bought a jag.
>> a jaguar. >> yeah, drive in style. i bought a harley. i bought my son his first car and what is he driving? a beamer. my wife and i have gone on dozens of cruises, you know. >> reporter: lustig says he relies not on luck but on a method he touts in a book aptly titled "learn how to increase your chances of winning the lottery." so what's your method? >> it's a lot of things that you have to do. >> reporter: one tip, he says when you pick your numbers, don't just use dates. >> most pick birthcase or anniversaries so all the numbers they play are going to be between 1 and 31. so what you're doing is you're actually decreasing your chances of winning. >> reporter: also, if you lose don't throw out your ticket. some lotteries have second chance drawings that offer big bucks. and he says, don't rely on computers to draw random numbers for you. >> don't buy quick picks. >> reporter: why? >> you're more likely to win something if you pick your own. >> reporter: but most lottery experts disagree. we asked aaron abrams, a math
professor at washington and lee university. >> quick picks produce randomly chosen numbers. and those numbers should be no better or worse than any other numbers. >> reporter: and what about lustig's advice to avoid using dates? >> if you want to avoid sharing a jackpot, you're better off probably choosing larger numbers than 31. but choosing large numbers will not affect your chances of winning. >> a lot of people say your method is bizarre. one quote is, "richard lustig is a get-rich-quick hack with no idea at all how to beat any lottery." how do you respond to that? >> if they've never won even one time, are you gonna listen to them or are you gonna listen to me, who's won seven times? >> reporter: maybe you're just really, really lucky. >> oh, come on. people who say that, how can anybody seriously believe that i won seven times just because i'm lucky? >> reporter: lustig has played the lottery every single day for more than 20 years, which begs the question. so how much money do you think you've spent on lottery tickets? >> i have no way of knowing. i never kept track.
>> reporter: are you breaking even? are you sure you've made money? >> i'm ahead. i'm ahead. >> reporter: how far ahead? >> i don't know how far ahead. believe me. >> reporter: why are you sure you are then? >> because i'm not digging into my pocket. i'm doing something that no one has ever done before. >> that's billion with a "b." >> reporter: then how come you haven't won the big lottery? >> i hope you have your tickets. good luck. >> it just has not been my turn yet, i guess. >> announcer: next, what do a hoodie and a hot dog have to do with a scandal at the very top? >> the person in the video is buying hot dogs and he's not a hot dog guy. >> the scammer when we come back. ed car? you got it. just say, show me millions of used cars for sale at the all-new carfax.com. where now you can search with the power of carfax®. just say "show me cars with no accidents reported!" boom. or how about, "show me cars with only one owner." pretty cool. plus we're the only site where you get a free carfax® report with every car listing.
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continues on "20/20" with nick watt. >> hello. >> reporter: just before christmas, 2010. a burly man walks into an iowa gas station. he buys two items. a hot dog. >> $3.17. >> reporter: and a lottery ticket. what turns out to be a $16.5 million dollar winning lottery ticket. >> a des moines quiktrip sole the winning ticket but the winner hasn't come forward just yet. >> reporter: that winning "hot lotto" ticket goes unclaimed. >> someone has the ticket. the iowa lottery wants to give away the money. >> reporter: almost a year goes by and in iowa you've only got a year to claim your winnings. nothing. no one. not a peep. >> and everybody was anxiously anticipating finding out who won. >> was it somebody who'd had the ticket stolen from them? had somebody maybe been killed over it? maybe it was just a guy who was trying to hide money from his wife that he was divorcing. >> reporter: $16.5 mill just waiting in the bank then -- >> ladies and gentleman, we have
the winning ticket. >> reporter: a canadian lawyer claims he's the winner. he has all the right info except -- >> he claimed that he'd been in des moines on a business trip and wearing a suit and tie had gone to the convenience store and bought some tickets. >> reporter: no hot dog? no hoodie? >> that rules him out. well, at least it indicated that he was fibbing. >> reporter: then a new york lawyer steps forward to say he represents a foreign corporation based in belize, yup, belize that apparently owns the winning ticket, but he won't name that man who bought the ticket. so no payout. them's the rules. terry rich sounds deflated. >> we don't have the person nor all of the background information about this winning ticket. >> reporter: then with less than two hours left on the countdown clock, both claims are sensationally withdrawn. >> this is something we haven't experienced in the last -- well, since the lottery began 26-years ago. >> reporter: deflated and now suspicious, terry rich launches an investigation.
so this was a hot lotto whodunit? >> yeah, exactly. there were any number of conspiracy theories. >> reporter: the man under the hood is finally unmasked, identified and arrested. >> a mystery puzzling iowans for five years has been solved. >> edward raymond tipton age 51, of norwalk has been arrested and charged with two counts of fraud. >> reporter: mr. tipton is the cyber security boss at the multi-state lottery association, which controls hot lotto and powerball across the country. here's tipton after his alleged jiggery-pokery waxing to a cbs affiliate about the failure of computer users to take security precautions. >> it's an afterthought. security has always been an add-on. and when something happens, it's too late, the cat's out of the bag. >> reporter: cyber is key here since unlike powerball there are no balls used in the hot lotto drawing. the numbers are randomly spit out by a highly secured computer that mr. tipton has access to. he somehow fixes those numbers
in the computer, then goes to the gas station in disguise, armed with the numbers, manually picks them, buys that guaranteed winning ticket. doug jacobson is a cyber-security guru. >> so let's say i anted to rig the lottery. and i wanted to win -- >> don't do it, doug. don't do it. >> i won't. >> reporter: but he could. a so-called 'root kit,' on a simple usb stick could infect the computer's operating system, enabling someone to secretly control seemingly random lottery numbers. how long would it take to do that? >> you could conceivably play all this out in a minute or two. >> reporter: get what you want, remove it, not a trace. >> yup, yup. >> reporter: thomas miller oversaw the investigation for two years. >> it defies all possibly odds that he happened to just in somewhat of a disguise purchase what turned out to be the winning tickets and just happened to also be the director of the company that generated the winning ticket. so, that's enough of a
coincidence to constitute evidence as far as i'm concerned. >> reporter: charges and a trial. the focus, is that tipton in the now infamous video? tipton's sister takes the stand. >> i've never seen him wear a hooded jacket. never has he had a beard. >> reporter: we beg to differ, here's a mug shot of eddie with a fulsome goatee. then it's little brother tommy tipton's turn on the stand. >> the person in the video is also buying hot dogs. eddie's not a hot dog guy. he's a -- he's go to whattaburger, jack-in-the-box and gets a big meal kind of guy. i've never ever seen him buy hot dogs at a convenience store. >> reporter: then tipton's old college buddy speaks. >> exacts just like eddie. the mannerisms are just like eddie. so, as a disinterested third party, i would say "oh, that's eddie." >> reporter: oh, dear. not very helpful friends and family, but is that enough? >> so far, there's really been no smoking gun to show exactly how he did it.
>> reporter: at trial, the jurors didn't hear from eddie. but he heard from them. >> and we the jury find the defendant edward tip ton guilty of fraud as alleged in count one. >> reporter: sentenced, just this past september, to 10-years in prison. that's unlucky. he is appealing. >> it is frustrating because cases in court should be tried on actual evidence from the witness stand and not leaps of logic and that sort of thing. >> reporter: but, wait, there's more. >> experience has taught us that criminals don't commit just one fraud. >> reporter: there's an earlier colorado lottery windfall, over half a mill paid out in november '05 to eddie's brother. tommy and a buddy by the name of robert rhodes.
>> yeah. lifelong friends, college roommates, the trio, enjoy chasing big foot. and it seems, lottery jackpots. and, in checking cell phone records it was discovered that they were in contact with each other almost every day. >> you couldn't write a movie script this rich with twists and turns. >> reporter: in fact, investigators say they've already identified a total of six suspicious jackpots across the country and expanded their search to 34 states. >> when you see one cockroach it's reasonable to believe that there's 100 more that you don't see. >> hi, i'm looking for mr. rhodes, please. >> reporter: mr. rhodes not eager to talk when our eager to talk when our affiliate ktrk came calling this week. >> thank you. >> might just all be very lucky. >> it's reasonable to draw the conclusion that it wasn't merely a coincidence. >> covering this trial, did it make you play the lottery more or less? >> well, i did buy a powerball ticket twice in the last few weeks. how could you not at that level? >> reporter: $1.5 billion. i wonder if eddie tipton also couldn't resist.
>> announcer: next, we're taking you into the deep end of the pool. >> i put it on facebook and they started showing up at my door with money. >> whether you're chipping in for the lottery on your block or you gave at the office, how to not get bit by sharks. >> joey, pay up, my friend. >> when lottery hangover returns. 7 days ago, karen wasn't thinking about joining her daughter's yoga class. she was thinking about her joints.
but now that she's taking osteo bi-flex, she's noticing a real difference in her joint comfort. with continued use, it supports increased flexibility over time. karen: "she's single." it also supports wonderfully high levels of humiliation in her daughter. karen: "she's a little bit shy." in just 7 days, your joint comfort can be your kid's discomfort. osteo bi-flex. you were made to move. so move. announcement: thisbiggest of the decade.the with total accumulation of up to three feet. roads will be shut down indefinitely. and schools are closed. campbell's soups go great with a cold and a nice red. made for real, real life. when your cold makes you wish... ...you could stay... ...in bed all day...
life's morning madness. and comfortable, organized bed and bathrooms that make them better. >> announcer: deborah roberts wades into the pool. >> reporter: some 160 miles south of where one of those winning tickets was sold, it's game day. oh, yeah. we were there capturing the scene during this week's jackpot
drawing. >> $1.6 billion. >> reporter: ft. lauderdale, florida, where these co-workers stayed out late confident their numbers would be called. and why not? they've won before. >> all: powerball. >> reporter: nearly three years ago laurie finkelstein reader and 11 members of her real-estate team each chipped in $20 and started an office powerball pool. >> we originally thought we won maybe, like, $100,000 or $150,000. and my husband turned around to me and he said, you know what? i think this is a million dollars. >> reporter: do you remember when you got the text or the call? >> there was 180 texts and there was literally 90 phone calls. so i called her, and i was like, what happened? is everybody okay? and she's like, you won. i'm like, stop lying to me. it was crazy. >> and there it is. >> reporter: they matched five of the six powerball numbers, enough to win a cool million dollars. the last win was about $83,000. after taxes, what, about $60,000 each? >> i did the realtor thing. i went and bought a house and
put impact windows in it. >> reporter: what did you do with the money? >> honestly, i blew it. [ laughter ] >> reporter: did you have a good time at least? >> i had a great time. >> reporter: talk about a lucky dozen! a nice payday for all but one, jennifer maldonado, the unlucky 13th worker. who chose not to join the pool. >> we love you, jen. >> it was just, hey, you know, we should really cut our co-worker in, and i don't think it was a full 60 seconds, every single person said, let's do it, let's do it, let's do it. >> reporter: incredibly laurie and her team graciously offered jennifer a cut of the winnings, even though she'd only been there less than a month. >> well, that was very emotional. who gives money to new people who you just met, you know? >> reporter: sadly, happy endings like this seem as rare as a rainbow unicorn when really big money is at stake. take the case of the california hospital workers dubbed "the lucky seven." a few years ago the winners
were barely pouring champagne celebrating their $315 million prize when the problems began. with their newfound freedom, one co-worker split the money with a spouse and promptly got divorced. one moved to the philippines and took up pig farming. none anticipated getting sued for a share of the loot, but it happened. >> that caught us all off guard. >> for a while in our office, it was a standing joke, "okay. who sued the lucky seven today?" because people kept coming out of the woodwork. >> reporter: one jealous co-worker tried convincing a judge that he was part of the pool, even though he was off the day they purchased the ticket. the judge didn't buy it. so why do so many of us dive in to the deep end of these risky workplace pools? more chances to hit that jackpot. >> okay. we need to get going and buy tickets. >> reporter: and increasing her odds is exactly what billie karger, an accounts
payable clerk of ft. worth, texas, thought she'd do. >> i do have butterflies. they're just right in here. just, oh, $3,000 of tickets. >> reporter: it's hours before wednesday's billion dollar drawing and we were with billie as she heads to a brand-new gas station. >> i don't see a line. somebody's gotta win eventually. let it be us. >> reporter: she's heavy-handed, all right. entrusted with more than three grand, not from her her office pool. >> my heart is like this. >> reporter: she's running a neighborhood pool. >> i have brought with me $3,030 that's collected from my neighborhood. we are buying 1,515 tickets. whoa. and that's insane. >> reporter: 280 people in her tight-knit community with more cattle than cowboys ponied up at least ten dollars a clip. >> good luck to us. >> bye. >> bye. >> i put it on facebook and they started showing up at my door with money.
>> hey, how are you doing? >> there was a part of me that was afraid if i don't join i would be the only one left in sendera ranch while everybody else moves away. >> how fun would it be if everybody around here won together? >> reporter: but the motto in this texas town should be "in billie we trust." every 1 of those 1,515 tickets she bought is accounted for, entered on her own personal spread sheet and locked away in a gun safe. it's what experts say is the first of a series of crucial tips when joining any kind of pool, electing a trustworthy, well-organized leader, which brings us back to ft. lauderdale and laurie finkelstein reader's realty company. >> i'm apparently the powerball leader, and you need to have one. >> reporter: where just hours before the powerball drawing she was collecting the last $75 entry fee. >> joey. joey. >> what? >> pay up, my friend. let's go. you're the last person. put up that money, my friend.
>> 40, 50, 75. >> you got it. give me a hug. >> reporter: no offense, laurie. so you all trust her when she's going to buy these tickets? >> absolutely. yes. and we know where she lives! >> reporter: you know where she lives. just in case, they've already tackled tip number two. sign a contract. >> we also have everybody sign something agreeing that when we win, we will automatically donate 10% right off the top. >> reporter: i like the way you say when we win as opposed to if we win. >> exactly! >> reporter: and they may want to add a clause with the experts third tip, no buying tickets outside of the pool. okay, honestly. moment of honesty. has anybody bought tickets outside the office pool? >> of course. >> of course. >> reporter: okay, so what if you were to win outside the office pool? >> oh, i love this. >> me too. >> they still would all get somewhat of a cut of the money. >> again, somewhat of a cut? as for our pools -- >> here it is! we have to go to work tomorrow, y'all. >> no! >> reporter: they ran dry.
>> we all have to go to work, but you know what? i enjoyed it. we enjoyed it. >> reporter: and though they weren't so lucky this time around in florida, these buoyant brokers say they have no lotto hangover. they vow to be back. it seems like part of the fun is just dreaming. >> it is. it is. >> if you don't have big dreams, how do you know if you're gonna -- can ever reach them? >> you need to dream so big that it's untouchable. [ cheers and applause ] >> if you've ever joined an office pool let us know the steps you took ahead of time to make sure everyone stays friends afterwards. use the #abc2020? we had our own office james drove his rav4 hybrid,
unaware death was lurking. what? he was challenged by a team of lumberjacks. let's do this. he would drive them to hard knocks canyon, where he would risk broken legs, losing limbs, and slipping and dying. not helping. but death would have to wait. james left with newfound knowledge, a man's gratitude, and his shirt. how far will you take the all-new rav4 hybrid? toyota. let's go places. come in and get closeout deals on over 50 top brand mattress models, and get a $100 award card on select purchases. plus special financing and free delivery are available on qualifying models.
save big this year at sears! befi was active.gia, i was a doer. then the chronic, widespread pain slowed me down. my doctor and i agreed that moving more helps ease fibromyalgia pain. he also prescribed lyrica. for some patients, lyrica significantly relieves fibromyalgia pain and improves physical function. with less pain, i feel better. lyrica may cause serious allergic reactions or suicidal thoughts or actions. tell your doctor right away if you have these, new or worsening depression or unusual changes in mood or behavior. or swelling, trouble breathing, rash, hives, blisters, muscle pain with fever, tired feeling or blurry vision. common side effects are dizziness, sleepiness, weight gain and swelling of hands, legs and feet. don't drink alcohol while taking lyrica. don't drive or use machinery until you know how lyrica affects you. those who have had a drug or alcohol problem may be more likely to misuse lyrica. fibromyalgia may have changed things. but with less pain, i'm still a doer.
ask your doctor about lyrica. >> announcer: "20/20" continues with lottery hangover. big money, big troubles. all right, so we took our own shot at the winner's circle at "20/20" and had our own office pool. 50 people chipped in, $450 worth of tickets. drum roll, please. >> we won a total of $76. that's $1.52 for each person in the pool. >> where are we going? >> not enough for even a single lotto ticket so bought cookies and made up for it in calories. >> next time. >> thanks so much for watching. i'm elizabeth vargas. >> aim david muir. i'm happy we're still here. >> me too. >> have a great weekend and a great nigh coming up on "action news" a coastal storm makes its way across the region. accu weather says expect wet, and warm.